More than 60 federal agents and analysts are headed to the streets Detroit to combat violent crime as part of "Operation Legend," but they won't be monitoring Black Lives Matter protests, top law enforcement officials insisted Wednesday.
As long as the agents leave protesters alone, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and police Chief James Craig said they support the additional resources.
Citing a 53% rise in shootings and a 31% increase in homicides in Detroit this year, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said the influx of federal agents is needed "to make Detroit a safer place to live and work."
"This is a flood of resources we haven't seen before," Schneider said a news conference.
Of the agents and analysts being deployed to Detroit, 44 are from the ATF, 12 from the FBI, and seven from the DEA. The U.S. Marshals Service also is lending a hand.
The analysts will be deploying new technology, including gunshot detection systems that use acoustic sensors to detect and locate gunfire.
"Senseless gun violence is taking over the streets of Detroit," said James Deir, an agent in charge of the ATF office in Detroit. "Statistics don't lie. What is happening on the streets of Detroit has to end."
Noting that protests have been peaceful in Detroit, Deir insisted that federal agents will not be monitoring protests.
"ATF are not going to be driving around the streets in unmarked cars to somehow make contact or swoop up protesters and demonstrators," Deir said. "It's not going to happen. I'm not interested that."
In Portland, Oregon, camouflage-clad federal officers have snagged protesters off the street and whisked them into unmarked vans, prompting lawsuits that claim the unusual tactic is unconstitutional. Federal officers have also been clashing every night with protesters, firing tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds of demonstrators, causing some serious injuries. On Wednesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that the federal officers would be leaving following a discussion she had with Vice President Mike Pence, writing on Twitter
that they "have acted as an occupying force & brought violence."
"There are no federal troops coming to Detroit or anywhere in Michigan to interfere with protesters," Schneider said.
Then Schneider made an unfounded suggestion tying protests to the rise in gun violence.
"I don't think it's a coincidence that there is a great amount of disrespect and hatred for law enforcement," Schneider said. "That escalates tension in the community."
After the press conference ended, Duggan and Craig released a joint statement in support of the federal assistance.
"We have to address the unacceptable level of gun violence in Detroit through greater efforts by federal, state, county, DPD, and community partners all working together," they said. "We hope today’s announcement will prove to be an important step in that direction."
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